April 7, 2009
STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PRESERVES
FEARLESS FANCY STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PRESERVES
Here on the west coast spring is in full swing (eat your heart out easties) which means strawberries everywhere. I bought a flat of ugly but delicious seconds at the farmers market ($14) and mixed it with all that rhubarb I'd bought. The results, a very special preserve, delicate and ambrosial, filled with luxurious whole pieces of fruit. It wants little else but some nice bread and butter.
I looked at a lot of recipes , most were either too simple ( resulting in a jam , not a preserve) and some too complex. Christine Ferber, the Jam Genius, had an amazing one but it made me want to lie down. I hope this recipe strikes the right balance of work vs. reward.
At first glance the recipe seems high maintenance and fussy, but really it’s not. It needs little tending, just advance planning. Basically you make a batch of rhubarb and a batch of strawberry and combine them at the end, cooking only briefly to marry the flavors.
This produces a preserve, not a jam, with whole strawberries to sink your teeth into. The strawberries are brought to the boil and cooled repeatedly so that they can soak up the syrup without breaking down. Be patient and follow the steps, it sounds fussier than it is.
This recipe is best when smaller, bite sized (1-11/2 “) strawberries are used. But here in the U.S. the berries are often Flintstonesque. When this is the case cut the berries accordingly and adjust the rhubarb size. Make sure you have some unripe berries for their pectin.
RHUBARB STRAWBERRY PRESERVES
2.5 lbs strawberries
4 cups sugar
1 lemon juiced
8 cups cut rhubarb (about 2 ½ -3 lbs)
4 cups sugar
1 lemon juiced
1. Wash and hull strawberries cutting any extra large ones into uniform size. Place in a non-reactive bowl with sugar and lemon juice and macerate over night or until sugar is dissolved.
2. Strain, reserving the fruit in the bowl. Boil the syrup for 5 minutes, skimming as needed
till you reach the gel point, 220-222 on a candy thermometer. Pour syrup back over strawberries and let soak again overnight. This allows the berries to absorb the syrup.
3. Prepare Rhubarb for maceration at this time. Wash and trim rhubarb and cut into 1” pieces (or larger to match your strawberry proportion). Place in a non-reactive bowl with sugar and lemon juice and macerate over night or until sugar is dissolved.
4. Bring strawberries and syrup to a boil, skimming as needed. Immediately turn off heat. Repeat this once more cooling in between.
5. Strain the rhubarb syrup into a preserving pan and bring to a boil. Skim. Continue boiling and skimming till you reach the gel point, 220-222 on a candy thermometer.
6. Add the rhubarb to its syrup and return to a boil. Skim. Continue cooking for 3-5 minutes, stirring, carefully to maintain the integrity of the fruit.
7. Combine strawberry and rhubarb preparations in one preserving pan (make sure pan is large enough to accommodate both and allow for boiling). Boil for 3-5 minutes stirring carefully. Skim .
8. Place jam in hot sterilized jars, seal and label.
Makes 10-12 ½ pint jars